Ben Nelson’s “Craven Betrayal” Raises More Questions

Kathleen Gilbert at LifeSiteNews has a fascinating interview with Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life.

On the surface the interview tells the story of a senator who made rather boastful promises of sticking to his pro-life convictions but abruptly broke those promises with a nonsensical cover story of adding “Stupak-plus” language to the manager’s amendment.

Schmit-Albin calls Nelson’s support for the Senate health care bill a “craven betrayal,” a view evidently shared by the majority of voters, both Democratic and Republican, in the conservative state of Nebraska.  Schmit-Albin points this out by saying Nelson’s action, even considering the millions for Medicaid, was not “in his own self-interest.”

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To my mind, Gilbert’s interview with Schmit-Albin raises the question of what pressure was brought to bear on Nelson that we don’t know about.

Here is the middle section of the story:

“He had been telling Nebraskans for two weeks: ‘I’m not gonna be rushed, I’m not going to be held to a Christmas timeline,” she continued. “He even said on a radio station Thursday morning … ‘I plan to be home for Christmas’ so we thought, well, that means he could just not vote for cloture and leave … and he’d be home.”

Nelson had also boasted the same day that he was a “cheap date” compared to some of his colleagues, since he was holding out against the bill on principle and not in hopes of a payoff. However, Nelson caved to pressure after securing special federal funding for Nebraska to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income individuals, in addition to other concessions requested by Nelson.

“At some point,” Schmit-Albin said, “he bought into Harry Reid’s timetable.”

Schmit-Albin called Nelson’s office Friday night asking to speak with the senator “because I knew it was crucial, because they had him squirrelled away in the proverbial smoke-filled room, and I thought he was under a lot of pressure.” She received a call back at 7:30.

“Julie, I want you to know that this is a courtesy call, this is not a call to get your input or approval, but I have some alternative language that I’m going to pitch back to Democratic leadership,” she recalls Nelson telling her. She said Nelson repeatedly assured her that the new language “was Stupak-plus,” an assertion that later baffled Schmit-Albin, who had protested to no avail that National Right to Life be allowed to vet the language.

“Well, he had to know this was weakened language,” she said. “He knew that by not vetting it by the national groups, that there was a chance that it wasn’t good language.” Schmit-Albin later learned that Nelson had agreed to language that allowed states to opt out of providing abortion coverage through the new insurance exchange, and instigated a funds-segregating scheme for premium dollars funding abortion, but left the bill’s federal abortion funding intact.


President Obama praised Nelson’s decision, saying, “It now appears the American people will have the vote they deserve on genuine reform.”

Read the whole story by Kathleen Gilbert here.


  • Deal W. Hudson

    Deal W. Hudson is ​publisher and editor of The Christian Review and the host of “Church and Culture,” a weekly two-hour radio show on the Ave Maria Radio Network.​ He is the former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.

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